NASCAR America: Talladega as non-cutoff race, Truex’s plate jinx

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NASCAR Cup points leader Martin Truex Jr. is riding high. He’s coming off his sixth win of the season at Charlotte, which earned him a berth in the Round of 8, and comes into Talladega this weekend truly in the driver’s seat.

This year’s race at NASCAR’s longest track is unique. In the last few playoffs, Talladega has been a cut-off race in the second round. This year, it’s not — it’s the middle race of the Round of 12.

In addition, stage racing is going to once again be important for drivers who need to prop up their chances of advancing to Round 3 of the playoffs. Truex leads all drivers with a massive 19 stage wins. Can he make it 20 or 21?

Our NASCAR America analysts — Brian Vickers, Kyle Petty and Nate Ryan — talked about that on Thursday’s show.

Heading into this weekend’s race, Truex holds a rather unique record of sorts: he’s 0-50 in restrictor plate race starts at Talladega and Daytona. Because he’s already locked into the Round of 8 with his win Sunday at Charlotte, Truex could coast at ‘Dega. But don’t expect him to do so. He wants that elusive plate race win and the bonus points that go with both winning the race as well as either (or both) of the two stages.

So, given that Truex said Wednesday that he needs to be more of a “jerk” — otherwise known as being more aggressive — at ‘Dega, will he actually do so? And if he does, could he make enemies that might make his road to Homestead-Miami tougher?

Kyle, Nate and Brian discussed that, as well in the video below: